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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Yield Response of Corn to Irrigation on Sandy Soils1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 70 No. 5, p. 823-828
    Received: Oct 31, 1977

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  1. R. F. Follet,
  2. L. C. Benz,
  3. E. J. Doering and
  4. G. A. Reichman2



Irrigation is being developed on large areas of coarse and moderately coarse-textured soils in North Dakota. Extensive areas of similar soils, including those in adjacent States, are near areas planned for irrigation. Knowledge of crop response to water is needed to effectively use irrigation in these large areas. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of irrigation and precipitation, and to use the Mitscherlich equation to evaluate the effect of limited water supply on crop yields and apparent water use efficiencies. Yield response of corn (Zea mays L.) to the amount of water received (irrigation and precipitation) was investigated in this 3-year field study. The corn was grown on a Hecla loamy fine sand, a Udic Haploboral, and irrigated weekly at rates based on predicted evapotranspiration calculated using the Jensen-Haise equation. Irrigation with more water than the amount predicted by the Jensen-Haise equation did not significantly increase forage or grain yield for any single year, but did significantly increase average grain production over the 3-year period. Successive, larger increments in the amount of water applied to the crop resulted in successively smaller increases in forage and grain yields. Mitscherlich equations fitted yield data for all 3-years and predicted limiting yields of 16.48 metric tons/ha of oven-dry forage and 10,150 kg/ha of grain at 15% moisture. For oven-dry forage production, apparent water-use efficiency (AWUE) was about 0.28 and 0.21 metric ton/ha-cm of water applied (precipitation plus irrigation) between emergence and final harvest for the nonirrigated and highest irrigation rate treatments, respectively. For the corresponding treatments, the respective AWUE's for corn grain production were 323 and 167 kg/ha-cm of water received (between 3 weeks before silking and final harvest). Yield response to irrigation treatments that considered precipitation probability at Oakes, North Dakota, were calculated. Results indicated that in 95% of the cropping seasons at least 8.9, 10.9, 12.4, or 13.4 metric ton/ha of oven-dry forage and 6,070, 7,230, 8,060, or 8,650 kg/ha of corn grain at 15% moisture could be expected from irrigating with 20, 30, 40, or 50 cm of water, respectively. In 50% of the cropping seasons, however, only 6.3 metric ton/ha of forage and 3,770 kg/ha of grain or less could be expected with no irrigation.

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